Ever wanted to own a yacht but just felt like it was too expensive or just impractical? Are you tired of having to do things like steer your own car to keep it in the lane? Are you looking for something that will haul seven people seated on leather seats with diamond quilting while rolling on 22-inch wheels? If the answer is yes, then read on.
Let’s start with the obvious distinguishing trait of the Infiniti QX80 ($63,250), the exterior design. Part animal, part curve showcase, one friend commented that the beast looked like an “odd-shaped whale you didn’t know swam the seas.” At first glance, I wasn’t exactly drawn to it. However, like Steve Buscemi, this car has more going on than its looks, and after a bit of time, those curves grow on you.
Granted, part of the increased appeal is that Infiniti handed me the keys to their top-line Limited, which adds $25,000 worth of greatness, including trim-exclusive deep Mocha Almond (other class-exclusive colors are Imperial Black and rich Dakar Bronze), 22-inch dark chrome rims, dark chrome exterior accents, quilted seats, open-pore matte finish ash wood surrounding the driver and passenger, dual seven-inch screens in the headrests, adaptive cruise control and power folding rear seats. Most of these improvements up the interior experience, and in the cabin, peace, tranquility and natural elements prevail. The only thing missing was a Buddhist pebble garden on the dash to rake daily, in order to center oneself.
Infiniti has made it very difficult to not, at the very least, spend some time behind the wheel of this capable, powerful, EPA-disapproving land yacht.
While the giant QX80 is definitely a ballsy and braggy SUV, it does remain somewhat subtle — as subtle as a nearly three-ton family vacation home riding on nearly two feet of dark chrome metal can be. You don’t really notice it in traffic versus, say, an Escalade. As with any giant SUV, the engine must be prepped and ready for a lot of hard work; thankfully, the 5.6-liter V8 doesn’t disappoint. The engine powers quickly off the line and the seven-speed automatic translates the 400 horsepower and 413 lb-ft of torque into polished oomph (to the tune of 14/20 mpg, city/highway). The rear suspension automatically self-levels and there is hydraulic body motion control which helps with the heft. The steering is refreshing (for something this big) and Infiniti gets a great deal of credit here; oftentimes electronic steering feels too artificial. The QX80 translates the road feel and the balance of this brute into the hands of the driver with impressive accuracy.
Infiniti QX80 Specs
Engine: 5.6-liter V8 engine
Transmission: 7 Speed Automatic
Horsepower: 400 @ 5,800 RPM
Torque:413lb-ft @ 4000 rpm
Drive System: RWD, AWD
MPG (city/highway): 14/20
MSRP: $63,250 (base)
I found the suite of technologies helpful, especially the lane-keeping assist which essentially puts the bumpers in the gutters, ensuring a 10-pin strike down the middle of the lane each time I hit the freeway. The 360-degree around-view camera system, which is slightly wasted on sedans, found its perfect use-case in the QX80. It essentially provides a bird’s-eye view of the car by utilizing multiple wide-angle cameras around it. It made parking garages and packed parking lots slightly less terrifying.
The QX80 must compete against those other carpool-lane stalwarts, the Mercedes-Benz GL and Cadillac Escalade — but for those in the market for a great seven-seater, or who refuse to buy a minivan, Infiniti has made it very difficult to not, at the very least, spend some time behind the wheel of this capable, powerful, EPA-disapproving land yacht. Once you plop down in the plush, quilted leather seats with contrast piping, and the open-pore matte wood encompasses you, edge to edge, in a warm, wooden hug — you will sense this is no grocery-getter: it’s a well-curated hull on wheels.